It’s a small sample, but numbers suggest the Lions’ offense is better when D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams are on the field together.
The chief woe for the 0-6 Detroit Lions this season has been their offense. They are 28th in the league scoring (18.2 points per game), 25th in total offense, 25th in passing offense and 23rd in rushing offense. They have not scored more than 17 points since Week 1.
The limitations of quarterback Jared Goff, a thin group of wide receivers that has been thinned further by injuries and two key injuries along the offensive line is a triple-whammy that isn’t helpful to offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn trying to coax production out of his unit.
But there may be an answer out there.
Lions: Should D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams be on the field together more?
This side of tight end T.J. Hockenson, D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams are the best two offensive players for the Lions. No other running back even has a touch through six games, and they’ve legitimately been one of the most productive backfield duos in the league.
Chris Burke of The Athletic took a run through some data, and the results are as eye-opening as they are not too surprising.
Swift and Williams have been on the field together for 21 snaps this season. Goff’s depth of target is the lowest he has across any other sample of attempts, but his yards per attempt is his highest. The Lions average noticeably more yards per rush, yards per pass attempt and yards per play when Swift and Williams have shared the field, while Goff’s completion rate (naturally, on shorter passes) goes up a lot. It’s also notable the Lions offense has been more effective when Williams is on the field.
Williams has been on the injury report with a hip injury that may legitimately be limiting him. He played a season-low 19 snaps, with a season-low five touches, against the Bengals in Week 6.
For Lynn to get Swift and Williams on the field together more, it really comes down to where Swift is lined up. Depending on the source, he has either 11 or 14 snaps lined up in the slot over the first six games. So about two slot snaps per game, give or take a bit. As a possible correlation, absent a deeper dive, Swift and Williams have been on the field together for an average of 3.5 snaps per game.
The Lions’ offense is not going to suddenly become a juggernaut over the final 11 games this season. But having the best players on the field as much as possible would be helpful. So that means Swift and Williams should be on the field together more going forward, and Lynn needs to form a plan for getting it done.